I first came across the American counter-tenor David Daniels in a Live at the Met in HD showing of The Enchanted Isle, and immediately became absolutely captivated by and addicted to, this voice.
It is probably wrong (though understandable) to focus almost completely on the countertenor here, as of course we have a whole group of musicians involved in the experience, so the wonderfulness is a shared production, but the pieces do place the singer centre stage, and it is the role of the musicians to provide unobtrusive, fabulously sensitive support to the strange magic of the countertenor. And Biondi and Europa Galanti are exactly in place, providing this.
There are 3 pieces of music here, the Stabat Mater, Nisi Dominus (Psalm 26) and Longe Mala. I can’t pick apart the technicalities of the pieces, only surrender to them, and to this beautiful, strange, warm and yet ethereal, effortless and brilliantly sparkling voice, a voice seems to come from some angelic realm – not a little cherub of an angel, but an angel whose shining is too bright to look upon. Possibly I’m still carrying the image of Daniels as the almost on the edge of dark magician (Prospero) from The Enchanted Isle here, but this voice really is almost, properly, something truly magical. Surely Daniels has been possessed by some musical elemental, surrendered himself to some celestial entity of singing. No words can convey it…listen and surrender.
The penultimate track of Longe Mala particularly is so profoundly beautiful in its quiet, reflective yearning that it reaches the point where the pleasure in the passing moments is almost too much to bear.
(and other, fortunately unwritten passages, too purple and fulsome with praise to want to read, or write!) Just buy this!
Vivaldi Stabat Mater